Medieval Drinking Song

The tradition of singing raucous lyrics in pubs has a long history. There are a few drinking songs from the Middle Ages, including those found in the Carmina Burana, a collections of poems and texts created in Germany during the first half of the thirteenth-century.

The Carmina Burana includes songs dating back to the 11th century, and were collected from various parts of Europe. Many were created by university students, and includes works of mockery, love songs and at least forty songs about gambling and drinking. As one scholar points out this “collection is full of that excitement, Drthat daring, that laughing-at-convention which characterizes independently minded youth.”

Here is one of the medieval drinking songs:

In the boozer
you’re a loser
if the dice you’re shaking.
You’ll get hurt
and lose your shirt,
sit there cold and quaking.
Lady Luck, your gifts are bad,
you trick us, then you make us mad,
make us gamble, make us fight,
and sit out in the cold all night.

‘Brrr!’ The naked loser moans,
when he’s cold and left alone,
shakes and shivers as he groans:
‘I wish I could be
asleep under a tree
With a hot sunshine warming my bones.’

But now let’s roll the dice again
and win some drinking money!
Who thinks about November’s rain
while it’s still warm and sunny?

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